By Naeem Tahir
November 19, 2011
In this situation, ‘arm twisting’ on the basis of financial strength cannot be called either ethical or democratic. It may be called coercion or corruption by the power of money. Unfortunately, the US is getting known for this approach in international politics.
On Monday, Oct 31, 2011, UNESCO general conference president Katalin Bogyay announced that the UN cultural organisation had voted strongly in favour of membership for the Palestinians — a move opposed by Israel and the US. Of 173 countries voting, 107 were in favour, Pakistan included.
A huge cheer erupted in UNESCO’s General Assembly after the vote, which marks a symbolic victory for the Palestinians in the complex diplomacy that surrounds their collective status and relations with foreign powers.
“Today’s victory at UNESCO is the beginning of a road that is difficult, but will lead to the freedom of our land and people from occupation,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said. Palestine has the right to a place on the map. Israel called the vote a ‘tragedy’ and the decision damaged relations between UNESCO and the US, an ally of Israel that provides about 22 percent of the body’s funding. The US took no time in announcing cancellation of its funding to UNESCO.
Once again, US policy shocked a large segment of the world populace, but for those who have followed US policy tilts it contained no surprise. The people of the US have little say in the policies that its government follows. Said to be a ‘great’ democracy, one wonders if it respects democratic processes around the world. The people of the US exercise their vote and feel they have done what is required of them. They are hardly ever seen protesting against what happens within the country, or how their representatives shape their image in the rest of the world. The American people are one of the most submissive lots. Engaged in making two ends meet, they have little time for anything else. They are subjected to the propaganda machine, and their opinions are formed by political parties at the time of elections. But what happens afterwards is a matter of trust and politicians’ business. In the case of the second term election of Bush, third world tactics of manipulation of the electoral process was noticeable. Polling stations were interfered with, counting not allowed, and the Supreme Court delayed its decision to re-count the votes until the exercise became ineffective due to a constitutional provision. Bush became President and the late count showed that in fact Gore had won. The American public remained helpless. So much for respect of the democratic process by the influential in the US. So it is no surprise if the US government punishes UNESCO for having respected the majority vote!
The US did whatever it did. Surely, it caused disappointment to many around the world because of the impression that the US respects democratic values. Perhaps it is time to clarify thoughts. US policy for the rest of the world is different, and if need be, the internal situation can also be rigged. The lack of respect for the UNESCO vote is an obvious example. In the UN Security Council, the US holds, and often threatens to use its ‘veto’ power to overrule democratic vote. The ‘veto’ power was reserved for themselves by some of the founding members. What a farce! This fact reinforces that idea that all men are not equal, nor all nations. The more powerful are indeed those who have the right to overrule.
But there is some factual support for justifying inequality in some cases. It is God’s truth that all humans are not born equal. Therefore different treatments can be justified except in basic human needs. However, those who attain the status of representing their country at UNESCO should possess a certain level of intellect and integrity. In this situation, ‘arm twisting’ on the basis of financial strength cannot be called either ethical or democratic. It may be called coercion or corruption by the power of money. Unfortunately, the US is getting known for this approach in international politics.
The major reason of the growing unpopularity of the US’s policies is this approach in the international arena. Stick and carrot, money or threats, are at the base of most of its policies. Sometimes there is a ‘human’ cover-up, and quite often the US stands ‘naked’ in its covert or overt operations. It is time that the people of America realise that this policy is not bringing a good name for their country. The world is not limited to the US only, contrary to what several simple Americans may believe. The world is a large community of states and US is one member of it.
The US has some remarkable traditions. In Abraham Lincoln, it had distinguished leadership of historical stature and respect. It has perhaps the best constitution in the world; it has huge resources and an amazing culture of tolerance and social justice within the country. But American policies around the world do not reflect the true American spirit. These policies betray prejudice and intolerance. Perhaps the most damaging to the American image is its dubious policy towards Palestine. No one in the right frame of mind should deny Israel a right to respectable existence, but by the same logic nobody should deny Palestine a right to respectable existence. In the case of Palestine, the US policy even smacks of religious bias and isolates itself from the Muslims around the world. Unfortunately, it is the US that insists on such discrimination in spite of its championship of human rights, democracy, and justice, etc. Personally, I believe that men like Bill Clinton who seemed genuinely interested in solving this chronic problem should play a more central role. The US has the power and the ability to bring cheer to the Palestinians and their supporters, and it is time the US reviewed its policies and earned a good name as a state and for its people.
The writer is a culture and media management specialist, a researcher, author, director and actor.
Source: The Daily Times, Lahore